Last week we went on a family outing to Tyntesfield country house, which is a National Trust property just south of Bristol. Of course, it was all thought up at the last minute and so planning for this expedition was not exactly well done.
Cue a scramble to make enough bits of finger food to get our currently capricious daughter through the day, mad rush to make sure that we had packed for all eventualities and charge backwards and forwards to load up the car. Wellies – check. Coats – check. Pram – check. Food and nappy bag – packed and loaded. Parents – ready to go. We left home, and no sooner had we left than we realized we had forgotten the National Trust car park badges and we did not have the Sat Nav up and running. 15 minutes later we managed to get the Sat Nav going, whilst our daughter decided to grizzle her way to sleep in the back of the car. And having not planned our route, the Sat Nav took us on a tour of a variety of country roads (presumably to avoid the motorway) on which we encountered tractors, horses, cyclists and a horse and cart. But we made it to Tyntesfield in one piece, and the lovely car park attendant didn’t seem too bothered that we hadn’t got our car park badge with us, and just reminded us to bring it next time.
We then sat for 15 minutes in the car waiting for our daughter to awaken, and this was followed by a rush to get her into the pram and get the buggy loaded and set off. As usual, I hadn’t checked the weather forecast and it was beginning to drizzle. Don’t worry, said my husband, we can go around the house and do the gardens later. We just needed to find the ticket office and make our way down the driveway.
The National Trust is one of my favourite organisations, and I think if you’ve bought the yearly membership and actually use it then it represents good value for money. The staff are always really friendly, and Tyntesfield was no exception. We had no problem getting to the ticket hall, and they were really apologetic that we had to walk around the outside because the lift was broken, although one of the volunteers offered to help lift the pram up the stairs for us. When we got to the house itself, the volunteers on the door were really helpful, and our daughter did her usual trick of charming absolutely everyone and so she was fawned over something rotten – one of the ladies even came racing up to her as we left to get one last look at her in her beret.
You can’t take a pram into the house, but they have something called a ‘Hippy Chick’ that you can use for free and the volunteers will help you to attach. I’ll try most things for free, and it turned out that I really liked this baby carrier – its simple to use, works well and really does mean that none of the baby’s weight is taken by your back, and it doesn’t dig into you hips. I thought that this was a really elegant solution for parents, and merited another few brownie points that the National Trust earned from me. Also, the volunteers in the house were very friendly and interactive, especially with children of all ages – and were keen to go through interesting things about the house, including how it was used in the Christmas edition of Sherlock.
With lunch time approaching, we headed for the nappy change facilities (which were perhaps not the easiest to find as the signage on the door was quite small) and then onto the cafe. There are two food options at Tyntesfield – the larger cafe back at the entrance (a 10 minute walk back from the house) or a smaller cafe in the gardens. We set off towards the gardens and it didn’t take long to find the cafe, which seemed to be very sensibly situated near a children’s play area. The catch with the National Trust is that once you’re at one of their properties food and drink options tend to be on the expensive side, and they always seem a little bit overwhelmed at busy periods. Tyntesfield was no exception, and the cafe also didn’t have more than 8 tables inside, so we managed to find an outside table but it was a little chilly.
After lunch we did some walking through the park and gardens, and I was very impressed with the condition of the walkways, and found it easy to get around with the pram. Obviously some of the woodland walks were not paved over and were too muddy to take the pram through, but there were a large number of paths we could take and lots to see as we went around. We made a brief visit to the gift shop on the way out, and then located the car, loaded up and drove home.
Good things about Tyntesfield – lots of play areas for children, enthusiastic and helpful volunteers, indoor and outdoor activities (so you can have fun no matter what the weather), beautiful house and gardens
Downsides about Tyntesfield – food and drink options are limited and expensive, would be an expensive day out without annual National Trust membership
As usual the drive home was interrupted when our daughter decided she was hungry, even though we had fed her before loading into the car, which meant a quick scramble for somewhere suitable to park and feed her. But all in all, we had a fun day out despite the weather being miserable and I would recommend Tyntesfield to parents looking for a fun day out with their children. For information about Tyntesfield, go to the National Trust’s Website: